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Your puppy's first year of life is filled with wonder, exploration, and growth. It's also the time to make sure your new little one gets started off right.
A puppy gets it's immunity from mom through the placenta before birth and through nursing after birth. When a puppy weans, that maternal immunity wanes leaving him exposed to disease until his immune system fully matures. This is why we must "booster" our puppies with a series of immunizations starting between 6-8 weeks of age and again every 3-4 weeks until past the age of 16 weeks. Furthermore, to be effective immunizations must be manufactured, shipped, stored, and handled properly. A veterinarian understands which products have been manufactured appropriately and the correct method of receipt, storage and handling. Though rare failures occur, puppies that weren't already infected and complete a proper immunization series are far less likely to contract one of several potentially fatal diseases (e.g. canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, pneumonia, and more). If only one thing could be the most important this first year, it would be to have a proper immunization series administered by a veterinarian.
This immunization, often called the "distemper/parvo shot", protects your puppy against 4 serious diseases. Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a sudden onset, contagious, and often fatal disease with respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurologic manifestations. Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) and Parainfluenza are respiratory viruses. Severe infection with either can lead to pneumonia. Canine parvovirus (CPV) commonly manifests as a loss of appetite, lack of energy, vomiting and diarrhea. Quickly, puppies infected with this virus become dehydrated and, if left untreated, this disease is frequently fatal. These diseases are prevented by proper and complete immunization, and avoiding high risk areas like dog parks, pet stores, puppy classes, etc until one week after the final booster.
Parasites are crafty. They have complex lifecycles often involving multiple hosts. Their survival depends on successful host infection, avoiding host elimination, and keeping the host alive long enough to start this cycle all over again. Should a puppy's mother be infected, her litter may be directly infected one of two ways - through the placenta or through her milk. If not infected directly by mom, many are infected indirectly from a contaminated environment soon after birth. This is often from mom's stool or the stool of another infected dog housed in proximity. Some parasites are just a nuisance for the puppy, others are life threatening for the puppy and humans alike. The best way to evaluate and treat fecal parasites is to have a stool sample checked on every puppy. If parasites are identified, appropriate treatment will be initiated. If no parasites are found, at least two rounds of a broad spectrum dewormer will be given. Not every parasite sheds every day. Furthermore, not every gram of stool tested will contain a parasite. You would want to make sure too, right? We agree.
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